Hotline Recordings, a label set on maintaining the mystique of tracking down music by making a mobile number its source of contact, accommodates Hodge warmly. He presents the label’s fifth release, following Kahn and Neek, Lurka, Rachael and DJ Sotofett, and Commodo. When we contacted the label at the start of the year, anonymous fingertips text us back coolly, days later, boasting a no-nonsense approach to releasing music. “If the trax sound hard on a system and get waists moving, we sign it. If it don’t, we send it back,” they said. In light of this, Hodge’s A-side, “Mind Games”, progresses, barefaced, from the pleasing foundation of UK funky’s tribal swagger. Layering up, we’re treated with a low, suction-type snarl that snaps you back to the first bar throughout. Hodge then chucks a grimy steel drum melody on top – urgent, wants to run away fast – and it is this play, between holding back and pouncing forward, that keeps the track centralised, firmly rooted and powerful. Turn it, however, and the approach is different. “Flashback” is introverted and even deeper underground. While the beat is a painful propulsion, the track is more spacious, synths all longing, slipping into the past and, in this way, it is in keeping with Hotline’s ethos: to challenge the dancefloor. Integrity, diversity and quality, tied together with a clear aesthetic and goal, underlines Hotline’s output. And it’s clear they’ve found the right guy in Hodge.
Beneath has been a firm Truants favourite for a while now. His unnerving blend of dubstep, funky and grime has taken him to labels as varied as Keysound and PAN while his skills as a selector are perfectly distilled in his contribution to our own Truancy Volume series. Having used his No Symbols label to house his own productions, Beneath has recently started the Mistry label as an outlet for other producers tracks. Webstarr – a young producer from Hull – contributes the label’s second release, his style certainly sharing some similarities with Beneath. “Aegrus” boasts a ragged, deconstructed rhythmic structure and is a brooding affair dominated by ominously swirling drones and a weighty low end. Chevel’s remix of the title track feels sparser; with the Italian producer opting to strip away much of the percussion which characterised the original mix. Webstarr returns to production duties on the final track. Keeping things dark on “Clocked”, he references the tribal rhythms of UK funky but reconstitutes them in a techno sonic palette. It rounds up a very strong debut release and one which suggests that Mistry and Webstarr both share a bright future.
DJ Sotofett’s WANIA label is pretty special. Their weird and at times beautiful takes on techno and house have been consistently impressive over the last few years and this split release between SVN and AU, both featuring spoken word from Paleo, keeps up the tradition. The A-Side, SVN’s On Tempo, is a twisted peak time club jam which showcases WANIA’s more rugged techno face. However, AU’s track on the flip, It Takes Time, is what really stands out. It’s delightfully chilled out, the chord stabs are relaxed and subtle, creating a mildly uplifting and laidback atmosphere. Paleo’s unassuming voice suits the nature of the track perfectly, bearing similarities to Madteo on previous WANIA release There’s Gotta Be A Way. It’s the first thing either AU or Paleo have released since 2012 but it has been well worth the wait. The release is a testament to WANIA’s versatility and we’re certainly eagerly awaiting their next release, whenever that may be.
At this point, no one needs to be told to listen to Tinashe’s first full-length album Aquarius anymore. It’s rightfully been on everyone’s radar and appreciated as one of the most wholesome and fulfilling records that’s hit shelves this year, which is a hard expectation to meet when the hype surrounding a debut has been as gradual and diverse as Tinashe’s. Aquarius has been a solid year-and-a-half in the making with over 150 tracks recorded, and while it’s doubtful we’ll even hear a quarter of those, one bonus track that’s surfaced is “Little Things”. It’s a fun and dancefloor friendly track that might not have sat right amidst the cohesion of the album, but it most definitely warrants some plays nevertheless.
Words by: Erin Mathias, Matt Gibney, Antoin Lindsay & Sindhuja Shyam.
Previous editions of Sunday’s Best here.